After a long winter, there’s a new snap in the air, buds are sprouting, and in my house that means one thing – time for spring cleaning. After the long, dark winter, this is a pretty necessary ritual. During those cold months, my house seems to magnetically attract piles of junk. Old newspapers for starting the fire stack up, and cobwebs gather in the unseen places where the spiders hide. Clothes gathered over a year collect in my closet, threatening to spill out and swamp the floor, and the garden outside grows high with brambles and rotting piles of old autumn leaves.
It’s no wonder that so many people I know get busy with the same thing in this season. In Iran it’s called “khooneh tekouni” literally meaning “shaking the house”. As the sunshine slowly returns, cleaning out the clutter and sprucing up my surroundings feels so liberating! The air seems fresher, my head feels clearer, and life just seems easier to manage.
In the culture of kirtan, it is said that the chanting of the names of the divine have this effect on the mind and heart. Shri Chaitanya, a revolutionary medieval Indian saint and avatar who spent his life spreading the practice of kirtan, said that the heart is like a dusty mirror. When we look in the mirror, the vision of our reflection is obstructed by the layer of thick dust, accumulated through lifetimes. Singing the names of God, which are unlimited and ever fresh, clears away this dust, even if only gradually. As the mirror is cleaned, we can see our true reflection, giving us the knowledge of our eternal identity – not the body, but the everlasting soul.
This season, I’ll definitely be trying to get in an equal amounts of internal cleaning along with all the de-cluttering and window washing. Nothing uplifts me more than kirtan. It is said that God is present in each divine name that we chant, bringing unimaginable colour and fragrance into our lives, just like the flowering springtime. And how about allowing a little spring hop into your step too? Just as wonderful as God’s name is the description of the divine world, where it is said that every word is a song, and every step, a dance.